To Shake the Sleeping Self 3/7/2021
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I can watch and appreciate most sports.
Soccer is the only one I care about.
At the age of five, I started playing on a gloriously named team: Bohemians. I played in high school as a central midfielder. When I lived in France, the second time, I lined up at left back for a side which was something like a college intramural team that traveled around the city.
I've been a Columbus Crew season ticketholder since 1999, when MAPFRE Stadium (né Crew Stadium) opened.
The Crew won the US Open Cup in 2002 and the Supporters' Shield - best regular season record - in 2004, 2008, and 2009.
Until 2020, the greatest year in franchise history was 2008. We won MLS Cup, Guillermo Barros Schelotto won league MVP, Chad Marshall was named Defender of the Year, and Sigi Schmid - may he rest in peace - won Coach of the Year.
The 2015 MLS Cup final, at home against Portland was... not so great.
But 2020 might be the greatest season to date.
COVID screwed up so many things, including the MLS season. As a season ticket holder, I only went to three games including the playoffs.
Despite the adversity, we advanced to the MLS Cup final. Right before the match, two key midfielders, Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos, tested positive for the virus. And the formidable Seattle Sounders were in town, looking for their third title in five years.
It didn't go well for the visitors - we played a masterful match and crushed them 3-0. Be sure to watch the second and third goals.
- I'm not going to say anything about the sonofabitch former owner of the team, Anthony Precourt, but I will say: In 2018, we saved the Crew!
- And finally, as many good memories as I have in the old stadium, I'm ready for the new one.
I've attended most of the US National Team games in Columbus - including every US/Mexico World Cup Qualifier. The most recent Mexico qualifier (November 2016) was a real gut-punch, a weak performance in the first half followed by bad defending on a set piece at the end of the game.
The following October, we didn't even qualify for the World Cup finals after a dismal match at Trinidad & Tobago.
What will it take for the US to get back to the World Cup, and to go from the mid 20s of the world rankings - where we deserve to be - into the mid to low teens, even the top ten?
Many people claim to have the answers. I still remember how many armchair experts thought José Torres would be our savior on the field in South Africa 2010. Or Jurgen Klinsmann on the sidelines in 2014 and 2018. They weren't. (I blame Torres for nothing and Klinsmann for quite a bit.)
An unshakeable consensus surrounded Gregg Berhalter before he was named head coach in 2018. Will he improve our results at the same time he makes the transition to a new era that neither Klinsmann nor Bruce Arena could? I hope I'm wrong - and I very well might be - but... I don't think he will.
The point is most people are sure about what we need to do to become a world power. I only pay attention to people's certainty on the subject if:
- They have at least a B License, and working experience with the US Soccer bureaucracy, or
- They've played professionally
Otherwise, they're just fans talking shit. They might as well be arguing about formations or best uniforms.
Until 2020, the greatest year in franchise history was 2008.
Speaking of fans talking shit, here are my favorite players ever. Reasons vary. Not in order, except for the first one:
- Zinedine Zidane - When I saw him at Bordeaux, I knew - immediately - he was special. I realize I'm not the only one.
- Guillermo Barros Schelotto
- Carlos Valderrama
- Lucas Zelarayán
- Paul Scholes
- Dennis Bergkamp
- Andrés Iniesta
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Thierry Henry
- Clint Dempsey
- René Higuita (see below)
Coaches: Sigi Schmid, Caleb Porter
If you're unfamiliar with René Higuita, check this out. England v Colombia, September 1995. Worth the forty seconds:
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